FCS Football Breaking Down the Bracket Week 11

Well, half of the automatic bids have been passed out.  So, five down, five to go.  Of the other five waiting to crown a champion, four of those teams holding onto the current spot that would occupy the automatic bid, have done enough to earn a spot with at least an at-large.  A few notes here…
  • Big Sky: North Dakota is in the clubhouse, with an 8-0 record and a completed season. Eastern Washington is currently 7-0 in conference play.  Both are in the field, but Eastern Washington would garner the automatic bid as the team with the higher Sagarin rating (which was the tiebreaker that would have been used in the past, it’s really irrelevant.)
  • Big South: The champion and automatic bid will be determined by the winner of Kennesaw State at Charleston Southern.  The winner will end up tied in the standings with Liberty at 4-1.  Liberty beat Kennesaw State, hence they have that tiebreaker if KSU wins.  Charleston Southern beat Liberty, so CSU gets the automatic bid if they win.  On a side note, Charleston Southern would also be eliminated from at-large contention because they wouldn’t have six Division-I victories.
  • Missouri Valley: South Dakota State holds the spot by virtue of their win against North Dakota State.  Any tiebreaker goes to SDSU, as they beat both NDSU and Youngstown State, in two or three team scenarios.
  • Ohio Valley: Jacksonville State hosts Tennessee-Martin this weekend and the winner will be OVC champion and the automatic bid recipient.
  • Southland: Central Arkansas travels to Sam Houston State this weekend, both 8-0 in the SLC.  The winner will be conference champion and get the auto-bid to the playoffs.  Both are safely in the field regardless.
CLINCHED CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, record overall / record in conference…
Colonial: James Madison, 9-1 / 7-0
Northeast: St. Francis (PA), 7-3 / 5-0
Patriot: Lehigh, 8-2 / 5-0
Pioneer: San Diego, 8-1 / 7-0
Southern: The Citadel, 10-0 / 8-0
CONFERENCE LEADERS, record overall / record in conference...
Big Sky: * North Dakota, 9-2 / 8-0
Big South: Charleston Southern, 6-3 / 3-1
Missouri Valley: * South Dakota State, 7-3 / 6-1
Ohio Valley: * Jacksonville State, 9-1 / 6-0
Southland: * Central Arkansas, 9-1 / 8-0
* - denotes a team that hasn’t clinched an auto-bid, but should have an at least an at-large bid wrapped up
So that gives us nine automatic bids to the playoff tournament and another going to Charleston Southern or Liberty as the Big South Champion.
Next, we’ll include the teams not listed above, but those who have at-large bids wrapped up.  There are seven of these teams.  That brings our current number of teams locked into the playoffs at 17.
AT-LARGE LOCKS, record overall
Sam Houston State, 10-0
Eastern Washington, 9-1
North Dakota State, 9-1
Chattanooga, 9-1
Richmond, 8-2
Villanova, 7-3
Youngstown State, 7-3
So, with 17 teams locked in, we have 7 more bids remaining.  It looks as if there are five teams who almost totally control their own destiny, meaning if they win their last game, they should hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
TEAMS CONTROLLING OWN DESTINY, record overall (remaining opponents)
Liberty, 6-4 (@ Coastal Carolina)
Western Illinois, 6-4 (@ Southern Illinois)
Samford, 7-3 (@ East Tennessee State)
Wofford, 7-3 (vs. Virginia Military)
Albany, 6-4 (vs. Stony Brook)
Tennessee-Martin, 7-4 (@ Jacksonville State)
A couple notes here, if all these teams would happen to win, that would drop the remaining at-large bids from 7 to 1.  Important to remember, if Kennesaw State beats Charleston Southern, Liberty disappears from this list as the Big South’s automatic bid, adding another at-large bid below.  Tennessee-Martin would become the Ohio Valley’s automatic bid by beating Jacksonville State, essentially poaching a bid (because Jacksonville State is in regardless).  Another consideration, any of these teams who would happen to lose, would probably be eliminated from playoff contention and add another bid to the teams below.
REMAINING TEAMS, record overall (remaining opponent), with note
Cal Poly, 6-4 (vs. Northern Colorado)
  • Cal Poly would be in really get shape to get one of the last bids. Despite a loss to bubble member, Weber State, they have wins over San Diego, South Dakota State and Montana.
New Hampshire, 6-4 (@ Maine)
  • The winner of the New Hampshire/Maine game will also have a great argument, as the winner will be 7-4 and 6-2 in the Colonial.  New Hampshire’s best win (besides Maine) would be Stony Brook.  They do have a bad loss to Dartmouth.
Maine, 6-4 (vs. New Hampshire)
  • The winner of the New Hampshire/Maine game will also have a great argument, as the winner will be 7-4 and 6-2 in the Colonial.  Maine started off 0-3, with two losses to FBS teams.  So winning out seven out of eight would be a big plus.  Of those, New Hampshire, Stony Brook and Albany would be notches on their resume.
Weber State, 6-4 (@ Idaho State)
  • If Weber State wins and gets to 7-4, all wins would be Division-I.  However, they had a fairly weak conference schedule in the Big Sky. Their best win would be Cal Poly and the only iffy losses would be Northern Arizona and South Dakota.
Montana, 6-4 (vs. Montana State)
  • At 7-4, Montana would be a very difficult team to grade. They’d finish 4-4 in the Big Sky and one of their non-conference wins would be Mississippi Valley State, which does carry any weight.  They do have wins over Northern Iowa and St. Francis.  They lost against every Big Sky contender they played and missed North Dakota.
Northern Iowa, 5-5 (vs. South Dakota State)
  • Making it to 6-5 would make UNI very interesting.  They would have finished the season with three consecutive wins, Western Illinois and South Dakota State included.  They have an FBS win over Iowa State and have the #2 ranked schedule in all of FCS.  Their five losses were by a total of 21 points.
Fordham, 7-3 (@ Bucknell)
  • Getting to 8-3 would mean winning six of their last seven, the one loss being Lehigh.  The best win is probably Penn, from the Ivy League, with another coming from below Division-I.  There’s also a bad loss to Monmouth to consider.
Southeastern Louisiana, 6-4 (@ Nicholls State)
  • At 7-4, Southeastern Louisiana would have all seven wins against conference members.  That doesn’t hold a lot of weight from a conference who’s only two non-conference FCS wins were against the SWAC.  They would have won six of seven to end the season, but they also missed playing Sam Houston State.
Northern Colorado, 6-4 (@ Cal Poly)
  • 7-4 for Northern Colorado would mean winning four of their last five, including Cal Poly and Montana.  One of the seven wins would be below Division-I and there’s also a very ugly loss to UC Davis in there.
North Carolina A&T, 9-1 (@ North Carolina Central)
  • Now, for North Carolina A&T to be eligible here, they would have to have lost their last game, a stark contrast from everybody else on the list.  They’d be 9-2, with the ultimate schedule dilemma.  They would have a non-Division I win, but also an FBS win over Kent State.  All their remaining wins would be against the weak MEAC.
Eastern Illinois, 5-5 (@ Eastern Kentucky)
  • They scheduled well out of conference and beat Illinois State and FBS Miami (OH).  But they also have two bad losses against Southeast Missouri State and Murray State.
Illinois State, 6-5 (season completed)
  • At 6-5, they had it, lost and found it again.  An FBS win over Northwestern looks good.  But losses to Indiana State and South Dakota hurt, but not as bad as the loss to Eastern Illinois.  Almost impossible to take them ahead of Eastern Illinois if it came down to those two for the last bid and that’s the unlikeliness of it coming down to those two.
Kennesaw State, 8-2 (@ Charleston Southern)
  • At 9-2, they would have just gift wrapped the Big South automatic to Liberty and knocked Charleston Southern from playoff contention.  However, three wins against lower Division foes and a very bad loss to East Tennessee State haunt their resume.
North Carolina Central, 8-2 (vs. North Carolina A&T)
  • Like North Carolina A&T, they would have to lose to be eligible here.  At 8-3, it’s highly unlikely they would snag the last bid over a 7-4 team from another conference.  All their wins would be lower Division or MEAC.